Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Honors Thesis



First Advisor

Kathryn A. Morris


Previous research has demonstrated that agentic women experience backlash in the hiring process when being considered for leadership positions. For example, Rudman et al. (2012) found that when participants evaluated an agentic female target candidate on measures of competence, likability, and hirability, although the female candidate received equal ratings of competence to an agentic male candidate, she received backlash in the form of lower ratings of likability and hirability than the agentic male candidate. In the current study, I investigated whether these backlash effects are consistent when the agentic female target candidate is evaluated in comparison to a male or female competitor of equal or lesser qualifications. Participants were randomly assigned to one of four conditions in which they received and read information about an agentic female target candidate and a competitor candidate (male/equally qualified, female/equally qualified, male/less qualified, female/less qualified) applying for a faculty position at Butler University. Participants then evaluated the target candidate on measures of competence, likability, and hirability. Results suggests that qualification of the comparison candidate influenced evaluations of the target candidate such that a less qualified comparison candidate improved ratings of the target candidate's competence, likability, and hirability. Contrary to predictions, significant effects of gender of comparison candidate were not found. This suggests that backlash effects related to candidate gender may not be as prominent in hiring situations that involve direct comparison to competitors.